sihanoukville – Prince Norodom Ranariddh said Friday he would not accept any government post in a CPP-Funcinpec ruling coalition led by Hun Sen.
“With Hun Sen as prime minister, I would not have any place in the government,” the deposed first prime minister said to reporters shortly before his last rally of the campaign season. “I will be elected for sure in Kompong Cham. So I will be a member of parliament.”
He would not rule out a coalition with the CPP or the Sam Rainsy Party, he said, but if Second Prime Minister Hun Sen continues as the prime minister, he would remain an ordinary member of parliament, rather than take a top government post.
But he said Funcinpec will win enough seats for him to be named first prime minister. “Between 60 and 64 is reasonable. It’s very conservative,” he said, boasting his party would win 50 percent of the Assembly’s seats.
The party with the most seats has the right to choose the country’s leader.
About 2,500 party supporters greeted the prince at Samdech Oeuv Junior High School.
Although Sihanoukville has only one seat up for grabs, Prince Ranariddh said he came because losing the seat the party won in 1993 would be a loss of face.
“Sihanoukville is Sihanouk,” he said, referring to his father King Norodom Sihanouk, who founded both Funcinpec and the port city.
Secretary of State for the Ministry of Culture, Sisovath Phandaravong, is Funcinpec’s first listed candidate for the municipality. But other parties were determined not to let the seat go without a fight.
A CPP convoy with 87 cars and trucks and about 100 motorcycles drove past the rally without incident 30 minutes before the prince arrived. Earlier in the morning, a Reastr Niyum motorcade with about 300 people snarled traffic when it met the CPP convoy.
The current holder of the Funcinpec seat, Pou Sothirak, broke ranks with the prince after the July factional fighting, and has joined First Prime Minister Ung Huot’s Reastr Niyum Party.
“Don’t make a mistake and vote for the mustache party,” the prince told the crowd, referring to Pou Sothirak, who is famous for his facial hair. The audience responded with laughter.